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Indian Summer Concert

Sky Jump

OCTOBER 2014. Happendance Professional Concert celebrated Indian Summer with a concert by that name. For many years the major production of the Happendance performance season was a "Winter Concert" by the professional company. Now there is a move away from the chance of snow cancellation and into an exciting new location -- The Cadillac Room (1115 S. Washington, Lansing), blending the historic with the contemporary in REO Town, just minutes south of downtown Lansing. Three shows were performed--Friday and Saturday evening, and a Sunday matinee. The concert was directed by Patricia Villanueva with assistance from Danielle Selby, and both also performed with the professional company dancers: Sarah Dobson, Lauren Mudry, Deanne Rivera, Josh Smith and Amanda Tollstam, as well as guest dancers Doug Priest, Trask Reinhart, Cameron Spitzfaden, and Professional Company Apprentices Aiden Foster-Fishman, Lena Shuptar and Abbie Smith. Happendance 2 also performed in several pieces, with the middle schoolers dancing "En Verano," a sophisticated romp on the Riviera by Villanueva.

The program opened with "Symphony for Sound and Silence," by Cleveland choreographer Joan Hartshorne, who danced with the legendary Jose Limon Dance Company. She created the work some 50 years ago and came to Michigan to set the dance on the Happendance company, as she has other works over the years. "Clearer Skies," by Danielle Selby, was inspired by photographer Dorothea Lange's images of the Dust Bowl of the 1930's. Villanueva brought back two works from last winter's concert: "Darling," a dance drama of a triangle relationship, set to an original score by Robert Brooks; and a re-imagining of "Tag, You're It" by Andrew Amos. The closing work was a premiere of "Summertime" by Villanueva, who used the moods of three different renditions of this Gershwin classic to explore the diversity of summer itself -- with May set to music of Diana Damrau, June to Kenny G, and August to Ella Fitzgerald.


Second Saturday Showcases 2013-14


SEPT. 2013-APRIL 2014. The second Saturday of each of those months showcased professionally-led workshops and unique studio performances at the Happendance studios. The season got off to a hot start with an end-of-summer salsa class and dance party on September 14. October 12 brought in Lansing legend, Randi-Kay Anthony, for a contemporary dance workshop, after which works from Community Dance Project were performed. On November 9 choreographer and filmmaker Kristi Faulkner brought a master class and a performance by her dance company. On December 14 the Happendance Professionals taught a partnering class and performed a sneak preview of January's "This is Happendance" concert. January 11 offered a performance of new works in progress danced by Happendance 2, following a Jazz Class in modern, popular and theatrical styles by Flint's Emma Davis. February 8 offered the annual Kids Fun Day, followed up with a performance by the professional Happendance To Go Team. March 8 offered a Zumba Class with Amanda Tollstam, followed by a performance of adjudicated works by top students from Happendance School, Happendance 2 pre-professional company, and Children's Ballet Theatre of Michigan. The final event of the season was April 12 - a master class with Hope College Prof. Matt Farmer, and a performance by H2 Dance Co., the semi-professional company affiliated with the Hope College Dance Department.

Based on feedback from participants, the series has migrated to First Fridays for the 2014-15 season. Same location, same pricing, fresh talent. Don't miss even a month of it!


This is Happendance! concert

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JANUARY 2014. On January 24-26, at LCC's Dart Auditorium, the annual This is Happendance! concert delighted audiences. Longtime Happendance favorite choreographers Andrew Amos, Tracy Holtzer, Danielle Selby and Patricia Villanueva presented a program of new, original modern dance works, described by Villanueva (Artistic Director) as having something everyone can relate and connect to. "Whether it's one of the characters or the story evolving on stage, these are people and life experiences everyone knows."

The concert, which ran 70 minutes, included six new works with themes ranging from lighthearted and heartwarming to struggles with isolation, consequences of choices, and daily life. Click here, to read full descriptions of these dances: "Tag! You're IT!" by Andrew Amos. "Where Are You Right Now?" by Tracy Holtzer. "Frozen" by Danielle Selby. Three pieces by Patty Villanueva: "Portrait," "Darling," and "Dads Can Dance Too!"

Happendance Professional Dance company members performing were Thomas Bond, Lauren Mudry, Deanne Rivera, Assistant Director Danielle Selby, Josh Smith, Amanda Tollstam, and Artistic Director Patricia Villanueva.

Happendance 2 Dancers performing in the concert were Lauren Adrian, Meredith Bolton, Ginny Canestraight, Claire Donahue, Anna Evanson, Michaela Ford, Aidan Foster-Fishman, Gabrielle Gubanche, Emily Hadick, Callie Harrison, Katie Heise, Kaylee Henderson, Roja E. Mullins, Rachel Ramsey, Brianna Renfrew, Haley Robins, Madeline Robins, Jennifer Ruth, Emily Scott, Abbie Smith, Audrey Spitzfaden and Maija Weaver.


Happendance at Michigan Youth Arts Festival

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MAY 2013. This photo shows some of the awesome advanced contemporary dancers from Happendance School, including many involved in our student company, Happendance 2! They are pictured in the lobby of Shaw Theater at the 51st annual Michigan Youth Arts Festival, held at Western Michigan University each May. This three-day event features the best high school-aged artists in music, theater, dance, visual arts, and media from throughout Michigan.

Selected through an intense audition process last January for the honor of dancing in the May 11th dance concert, our ten dancers performed "Frozen", choreographed by Happendance Professional Company artist and teacher Danielle Selby. Besides the concert, the dancers participated in master classes and tech rehearsals, and attended the Gala Performances on Thursday and Friday nights, featuring the 'best of the best' in all the arts. As shown in this photo, all had a blast! And of special note, the dancer pictured on the MYAF poster is recent Happendance School graduate, Maddie Brogan, who is now majoring in dance at Butler University. Congratulations to all these fine representatives of Happendance at this prestigious event!

Pictured -- Left of poster, L-R: Deanne Rivera (chaperone), Lena Shuptar, Aiden Foster-Fishman, Emily Scott, Liam Shaffer. On poster: Maddie Brogan. Right of poster, L-R back row: Marie Adrian, Katrina Granger; front row: Anna Evanson (partially hidden), Mason Villanueva, Jennifer Ruth, Michaela Ford. (Photo by Danielle Selby)


Happendance Professional Concert set to Classic Rock


JANUARY 2013. Dancing to the legendary music of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon," Michigan's premier modern dance company, Happendance, offered a fantastic journey into the psyche of sleep deprivation and self-revelation. The visit to the dark side was led by featured dancer Danielle Selby, dancing the part of a woman exhausted by insomnia and driven to insanity by it-- struggling through encounters with a variety of people: other depressed, bored souls; lab-coat-clad acquaintances; party-goers with flashing lighted hula-hoops, and others, until finally she runs into... herself! This reflection might represent a memory, a self-reflective process, or a comforting symptom of losing touch with reality. Whatever the interpretation, she begins to feel better and revel in the psychedelic space that brings her, at last, to sleep.

Dancing in this show were Happendance Professional Company members Patty Villanueva of Eaton Rapids; Matt Bebermeyer of Lansing; Deanne Rivera of Okemos; Danielle Selby of Grand Ledge; and MSU Senior Scott Stafford, along with company apprentices Chloe Gonzalez of Springport; Mason Villanueva of Eaton Rapids; and Alison Rhodes of Okemos.

Rounding out the performance ensemble were dancers from Happendance 2, the student company of Happendance School, including: Aiden Foster-Fishman, East Lansing; Michaela Ford, Grand Ledge; Jennifer Ruth, Haslett; Melanie Matchette, Lansing; Anna Evanson and Callie Harrison, Mason; and Jillian Abuan, Claire Donahue, Katie Heise, Roja Eghtedary Mullins, Averie Nim, Brianna Renfrew and Emily Scott of Okemos.


Honoring Diane Newman in Transition

Diane Newman

JANUARY 2013. A special afterglow gathering after "This is Happendance! Dark Side of the Moon" brought together the cast, crew, and friends of Happendance to honor Happendance Founder, Diane Newman, who would soon be stepping down as Happendance's Executive Director to focus on Happendance School. (Click here, to read Diane's October letter regarding her decision.) At the reception, Missy Lilje was introduced as the new Executive Director. Lilje has a long history with Hqppendance, starting as a student, and most recently serving as its Artistic Director. She holds a BFA in Dance at University of Michigan, and MFA in Dance from Arizona State University.


Happendance Performed in Holland


OCT-NOV 2012 - Happendance Professional Company were guest artists when Hope College's dANCE pROjECt celebrated its sixth annual fall season, featuring pieces in keeping with the Halloween season. Offered the weekends of October 26-27 and November 2-3, in a historic theater in downtown Holland, the evening shows consisted of alternating pieces by dANCE pROjECt (formerly Aerial Dance Theater) and Happendance. The company's appearance was co-produced by the Hope College Patrons for the Arts.


Happendance went “Over the Ledge


SEPTEMBER 2012 - Over the Ledge Theatre Company hosted a concert by Happendance Professional Company in The Ledges Playhouse (in Grand Ledge's Fitzgerald Park) on September 21-22. Happendance performed innovative, contemporary dance, of the high calibre that has won the company national acclaim this season. The program drew upon repertory and also presented premiere works. Choreographers included: Happendance's own Missy Lilje and Danielle Selby, Gregory M. George of Children's Ballet Theatre of Michigan, Min Kim from the University of Texas, Kimberly Karpanty from Kent State University, and New York City choreographer Leanne Schmidt.


Community Dance Project 2012

C/d Project - Community Dance

AUGUST 2012 - The 7th season of Community Dance Project, sponsored by Happendance and Lansing Community College, presented hour-long concerts of modern dance by both seasoned and novice choreographers and featured community dancers to present these exciting new works. Performances were free and open to the public.

With so many new works to share, two different programs were offered. Program A was composed of dances with smaller casts (solos to quintets) and was performed at LCC's Dart Auditorium on August 8, and back-to-back shows at Scene MetroSpace (110 Charles St., East Lansing) on August 10. Program B offered 11 dances with 6 or more dancers. This larger-cast program was performed outdoors on August 4 at Lansing JazzFest in Old Town, and at LCC's Dart Auditorium on August 9.

Read more about Community Dance Project


SYTYCD Star Connects with Happendance

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APRIL 2012 - Dancer Billy Bell, a finalist in Seasons 6 and 7 (2009-2010) of Fox TV's "So You Think You Can Dance", brought his Lunge Dance Collective to MSU's Fairchild Auditorium on April 12 in a free concert sponsored by the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH). In that concert, guest artists HAPPENDANCE PROFESSIONAL COMPANY performed "chew it up/spit it out," an award-winning piece choreographed by Leanne Schmidt for Happendance, performed last fall in New York City, and in Happendance's February concert, "Exposed".

Bell was an Artist-in-Residence at the RCAH from April 9 to 13, in connection with the class "Dance As Human Experience," taught by adjunct professors Diane Newman (Happendance founder and Executive Director), and Beth Post (former Happendance company member and teacher). The students had created and learned dances during the class, and Bell set a piece on them during the residency. All these works were presented in a free student concert on April 13 at the RCAH Theater.

Students at Happendance School had their own opportunity to be taught by the renowned dancer when Bell taught the High Intermediate Modern class on April 11.

Learn more about Billy Bill at the Lunge website. Photo provided by Billy Bell.


Happendancers performed at RAD Fest

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MARCH 2012 - Danielle Selby of the Happendance Professional Company submitted her 2010 work "MASH" for the 3rd Annual Midwest Regional Alternative Dance Festival, a juried event that features the best in cutting-edge modern and contemporary dance from all over the Midwestern United States. She recreated the dance on fellow dancers and Happendance School teachers, Patricia Villanueva and Sarah Dobson. The trio performed it on March 2nd at the festival in Kalamazoo.

Photo provided by Danielle Selby


Winter Concert 2012: Exposed


FEBRUARY 2012 - A typical stage production involves a lot of equipment, most of it invisible to the audience. In "Happendance . . . Exposed," a concert of contemporary dance on February 24-25 (8 pm), at Hannah Community Center's White Auditorium in East Lansing, had a different look. Missy Lilje, Artistic Director of Happendance Professional Company, used the low-tech facility to her advantage, exposing the backstage areas, leaving the light booms in the wings (sides) in full view and as the only stage lighting in use. This technical simplicity provided a unique focus on the dances and the dancers.

The concert featured two commissioned works by guest choreographers. Kimberly Karpanty, of Cleveland and Kent State University, created "Wake," a dance which incorporates images of good and bad dreams from the four dancers. It premiered in New York City in October, staged along with "chew it up/spit it out," a quirky work by NYC's Leanne Schmidt, and an audience favorite when premiered by Happendance in 2010. It returned to Lansing expanded to a work for six dancers.

Happendancers, past and present, provided the rest of the choreography. "Monkey Wrench," by Andrew Amos, told a story of five office workers thwarting corporate culture. The solo "Falling Lessons," created by Lilje, dealt with fear of mistakes, to music by Massive Attack. Lilje's second dance, "Together We Sway" (music by William Shatner and Ben Folds) was first created as a light-hearted trio, but evolved to include the high schoolers of Happendance 2 pre-professional company, and added a surprise twist of audience involvement. Michael Place's duet, "Catching Me for Himself (Falling to Be Caught)", explored the opposing motives of a couple's relationship.

Closing the concert was Tracy Holtzer's "Undulations," expressing the ebb and flow of energy, in three sections: Part 1, Smooth Waves, is a duet set to the ethereal music of Ireland's Sigur Ros; Part II, Noisy Echoes, builds energy with Company for String Orchestra, Movement II, by Philip Glass; Part 3, Reverberations, was a full-company finale, set to Palladio performed by Escala.

Performing in the concert were professional company members Andrew Amos, Michael Place, Danielle Selby and Patricia Villanueva; apprentice Madeline Brogan; and guest dancers Sarah Dobson, Clara Martinez, and members of Happendance 2. Villanueva also served as Assistant Artistic Director.


Happendance 2 in 2011-12

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2011-12 SCHOOL YEAR - After summer auditions, the 14 middle and high school dancers accepted into the pre-professional company began many hours of intense training and rehearsal.

Their repertoire includes dances by some of the hottest jazz, hip-hop, lyrical and contemporary choreographers in the area, with works like: "ET/Alien Invasion," by Amy Brooks, to music by Katy Perry; "The Substitute," by Jessicca Shank, to music by Diddy Dirty Money; "Evil," by Tracy Schrauben, to music by Matt Goss; "Breathe," by Jesse Powers, to music by Sia; "Black and Gold," by Laura Buck, to music by Sam Sparrow; "It's Gonna Be a Long Walk," by Michael Price, to music by Apparat. Each year they learn a world dance, and this year it was the Lebanese "Hizzy Scarf Dance," learned from Garnet Kepler, set to traditional music.

Happendance 2 performed on November 4 to an audience in Happendance Studios as part of the First Friday series, at Holt High School Auditorium on February 2nd, and completed the season in Wilson Auditorium, St. Johns on April 21, where five modern dances choreographed by students premiered: "Fix You" by Grace French, "Invisible" by Callie Harrison, "All I Need" by Aiden Foster-Fishman and Jennifer Ruth, "FeelTheWah" by Lindsay Fedewa, and "Siren's Call" by Emily Scott. Happendance 2 also performed at Heartwood School and for a private event. A highlight of the year was performing as guest dancers in the "Happendance . . . Exposed" professional concert, on February 24-25.

This year's dancers hailed from East Lansing, Eaton Rapids, Haslett, Lansing, Mason and Okemos, being:

High School Company: Lindsey Fedewa, Michaela Ford, Callie Harrison, Melanie Matchette, Lizzie Mullins*, Alison Rhodes, Emily Scott and Mason Villanueva.

Middle School Company: Marie Adrian*, Aiden Foster-Fishman, Gabrielle Jones, Roja Eghtedary-Mullins, Averie Nim and Jennifer Ruth.

*Unable to complete the season


Happendance “To Go Team

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The 2011-12 school year found the Happendance To Go Team show well received in schools and youth group settings. Missy Lilje led performers Amy Brooks, Deanne Rivera, Danielle Selby and Patricia Villanueva in a 50-minute show which included pieces exploring a variety of dance styles, and a dance version of a book with true life lessons.

Flags a Flyin', choreographed by Jane Gamble to music by Aaron Copland, introduced the dancers with a western flare in the style of contemporary dance.

Molecules on the Move brought great moves by Jessicca Shank, inspired by hot sounds of popular music. In contrast, Variation a la Ballet, a solo by Patty Villanueva, showed off classical ballet against a background of classical music. Surf City Swing was choreographed by Danielle Selby to music by the Beach Boys, and showed how to swing dance and do your own boogie!

Listen to the Wind is a dance drawn from a book of the same name by Greg Mortenson. It tells the true story of his time in a mountain village of Pakistan. After becoming lost in the wilderness, he stumbled into Korphe, a remote village. The residents took him in and nursed him back to health with kindness, friendship and love. In return he built a school for the children of Korphe. It is a heart-warming story of friendship and tolerance that crosses religious and cultural barriers. Choreographed by Missy Lilje to music by Karl Jenkins, with instrumental selections from Pakistan.

Students found free samples of dance styles in Dance Cafe choreographed by Amy Brooks to a mix of current pop music. When it was over, they could answer from experience, what's your favorite dance flavor?


Happendance in New York City

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NOVEMBER 2011 -- Happendance spearheaded a tri-state collaboration which culminated Saturday evening, October 15, at New York Live Arts (219 West 19th Street, New York City) with a studio concert of works by Leanne Schmidt (New York) and Kimberly Karpanty (Ohio), performed by Happendance. Repertory for the evening included Karpanty's "Wake", commissioned for Happendance’s 2012 winter concert, evoking the edge between sleep and wakefulness; and the wry and witty "chew it up, spit it out" by Schmidt, which premiered at Happendance’s concert "The Body" in 2010. On October 14 Happendance also performed Schmidt's work, by invitation, at the Collaborations in Dance Festival at Triskelion Arts (118 North 11th Street, Brooklyn).

Dancing at the New York events from Happendance were Andrew Amos, Madeline Brogan, Clara Martinez, Michael Place, Danielle Selby, and Patricia Villanueva, under the direction of Missy Lilje.

Photo by Chrissie Brogan


35th Anniversary Concert Connected LSO with Happendance!


FEBRUARY 2011 -- One of the most exciting collaborations in Happendance history was timed perfectly to celebrate turning 35. Lansing Symphony Orchestra's Chamber Ensemble accompanied the Happendance Professional company on LCC's Dart Auditorium stage at the February 19-20, 2011 concert entitled, "CONNECT."

Complementing the artistic skills of the Happendancers were two guest choreographers. Cristina Perera has been a dance professional in Asia, Europe and the Americas, including a year in Brazil as artistic director of Cirque du Soleil’s “Alegria,” but in May of 2010 she was teaching in three Lansing dance centers, including Happendance School. A fringe benefit of that connection was her provision of a dance for the Connect concert: “Thoughts of Love and Loss,” an intense and rigorous duet performed by Matt Bebermeyer and Tracy Holtzer to the music “Fratres” by Arvo Part. University of Michigan professor of dance Bill DeYoung created a piece for all five professional dancers, set to the music of Aaron Copeland.

Co-directors Missy Lilje and Matt Bebermeyer each offered new works to take advantage of having Chamber Ensemble accompaniment. Lilje performed with Bebermeyer and Patty Villanueva in "Vertical Lament," set to Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”. The trio explored the wishes of a vertically-challenged individual to reach as high as her taller counterparts. In Lilje’s second piece, the pre-professionals of the Happendance 2 company joined with the five professionals for an upbeat celebration danced to the music of Coldplay arranged for string quartet. Matt Bebermeyer created a three-part dance that used Bach’s famous “Suite for Cello #1 in G Major”. He also created four vignettes sprinkled throughout the show and set in silence. In addition, Happendancer Patty Villanueva performed a solo called "Duet," acknowledging the interactive role of the cellist accompanying the dance.

It was a thrilling and historic event, coupling exceptional live music by the Lansing Symphony Orchestra Chamber Group with thrilling dance from Michigan’s longest- running professional modern dance company.